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gamification design 4 common pitfalls

The Updated Guide to Gamification Design: 4 Common Pitfalls to Avoid

corporate training game-based learning gamification Aug 30, 2023

Gamification has become an essential tool in the realms of corporate learning, talent management, and numerous other sectors. But as this concept evolves, so do the mistakes that come with its implementation. Below, we explore the four most common pitfalls in gamification design and how to avoid them.

1. Ignoring the Purpose: "Why are we playing?"

The most foundational question isn't, "How can we apply gamification?", but rather, "Why do we want to?". Distinguish between goals and objectives:

  • Goals are broad guidelines defining what you aim to achieve, e.g., "We aspire to augment our sales across all divisions this year."

  • Objectives are the actionable steps that make goals achievable. They're specific, measurable, and time-bound, addressing the "who, what, when, where, and how."

Your gamification strategy should be rooted in clear objectives. The sharper your objectives, the more aligned your gamification approach will be.

2. Overlooking the Player Persona: "Who is the game for?"

Differing motivations and perceptions can greatly influence a user's experience with gamified systems. Dr. Reiss's concept of "self-hugging" is crucial here. It's easy to assume that everyone thinks or feels the way we do, but this mindset can lead to misaligned gamification designs.

It's essential to be player-centric. Interact with potential users to understand what motivates them, ensuring that the gamified experience is tailored to their needs and desires.

3. Using Gamification as a Band-Aid for Broken Systems

Gamification isn't a magical cure for inherently flawed products or services. Picture a scrumptious icing on a badly baked cake; no matter how sweet the icing, it can't hide the bitter taste of the cake beneath.

Before introducing gamification, address underlying issues. If the core product or service isn't resonating with users, gamifying it will only be a superficial fix. Prioritize fixing foundational problems before integrating game elements.

4. Misunderstanding Gamification as Merely Points, Badges, and Leaderboards (PBL)

PBLs have become synonymous with gamification, but they're just the tip of the iceberg. While they can be engaging components, relying solely on them can backfire.

Take, for instance, leaderboards. When used in the wrong context or without considering the user's perspective, they can be counterproductive. If employees see gamification as a means for management to micro-manage or control them, the outcome can be negative.

A holistic gamification design offers users a sense of achievement and progression. Instead of a monotonous grind, they should feel growth, skill enhancement, and purpose.

In Conclusion

As gamification continues to evolve, remember to ensure your design isn't just a superficial overlay. Understand the process, identify your players, grasp their motivations, and align everything with your objectives for a successful gamified experience.

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